Councillor breaks ranks in major push for transparency
A SUNSHINE Coast councillor has broken ranks to call for significant reform to provide greater transparency around council's decision-making processes.
He has filed a Notice of Motion in a bid to address what he has described as a growing public perception that the council overused confidential sessions that was eroding trust in the council and the democratic process.
Cr Rick Baberowski (Division 1) has called for live video and recordings of council meetings to be made available online.
"In a digital age, Sunshine Coasters should be able to see council in action whenever they want to," he said.
"Secondly, I am proposing using the same technology to record the confidential parts of meetings.
"Once the reasons for confidentiality have passed, the recordings should be made available to the public. For example, once the commercial negotiations that a debate relates to have concluded, the video would be released.
"I believe the community would have a lot more trust in decisions made in confidential sessions if they knew they would eventually be able to see the meetings in full."
The motion will be tabled at the next ordinary council meeting on November 14.
Cr Baberowski said he had been following the recent debates about council's alleged lack of transparency.
"While I believe that council's decisions to use confidential sessions have been for legitimate reasons, such as protecting the community's interests in commercial negotiations, I think it is important that the community can decide that for themselves," he said.
"I have also certainly been frustrated in wanting to publicly discuss aspects of council decisions that I believe no longer have a reason to be confidential, but that I cannot talk about without breaking the law."
Should the community be able to see council in action "whenever they want to"?
This poll ended on 01 December 2019.
No, we don't need to know everything.
I'm not sure.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Cr Baberowski said he had noticed that, for understandable reasons, the public gallery in the chambers was often empty during meetings and little of the debate was reported in the media.
"This makes it difficult for residents to know how their councillors performed and what they stand for," Cr Baberowski said.
"I am of course open to suggestions about how to improve these proposals. I intend to work with the community, my council colleagues and council staff to work out how to secure the support of the council for these changes."